School of Science receives $1M gift from husband-and-wife faculty members

  • June 1, 2016


INDIANAPOLIS -- The School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has received a $1 million planned gift from two of its Department of Mathematical Sciences faculty members. The gift from Distinguished Professor Alexander R. Its and associate research professor Elizabeth N. Its will endow a professorship within the department and an undergraduate scholarship for an honors student.

The gift honors the couple's commitment and gratitude to the school and is one of the largest estate gifts ever committed by a faculty member from the School of Science at IUPUI.

"The School of Science is so grateful to Elizabeth and Alexander Its for their thoughtful generosity," said Dean Simon Rhodes. "Their endowed gift, just like their outstanding personal contributions to our research and teaching missions, will support the success of IUPUI students forever."

Both natives of Russia, Alexander and Elizabeth met and married while classmates at Leningrad State University, U.S.S.R. (now known as St. Petersburg State University). When they were recruited to join the Department of Mathematical Sciences in 1993, it was a tumultuous time in their homeland. The combination of personal and professional motivations to join IUPUI has proved positive.

"This gift is a small portion of what we'd like to do to express our appreciation for all these years at this great school," Alexander Its said. "We are very fortunate to witness and be a part of the growth of this institution where we've been able to move up together."

The decision to endow a math professorship and an undergraduate scholarship stemmed from the couple's passion for fundamental higher education. Both continue to teach courses in the school, and they are continually impressed with their students. It is Elizabeth's hope that the scholarship will assist students who share their passion for mathematics.

"Most classes I teach are undergraduate classes, and I love my students," Elizabeth Its said. "It's so important to help them a little, because many of them struggle. I have the greatest respect for those students who have to work their way through school."

Alexander Its joined the School of Science faculty in 1993. As an Indiana University Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, he has worked tirelessly on research involving partial differential equations and related aspects of spectral theory and algebraic geometry, soliton theory, and exactly solvable quantum field models. To date, he has published more than 128 research papers and five books, and he has given 219 invited lectures at leading institutions and scientific meetings all over the world.

A distinguished panel of Alexander Its' peers has described him as "one of the best applied mathematicians of our time" and his work as "definitive, revolutionary and transformative."

Elizabeth Its joined the School of Science faculty in 1997 and is an associate research professor. Her specific interests are mathematical geophysics with a focus on the theory of diffraction and scattering of elastic waves, numerical methods in wave propagation, the Riemann-Hilbert method for solving diffraction and scattering problems, and physical ultrasonic modeling.

The School of Science at IUPUI is committed to excellence in teaching, research and service in the biological, physical, behavioral and mathematical sciences. The school is dedicated to being a leading resource for interdisciplinary research and science education in support of Indiana's effort to expand and diversify its economy.

Alexander and Elizabeth Its

Alexander and Elizabeth Its

Print Quality Photo

Richard Schneider
Candace Gwaltney